To Part Upon the Square

There is, in several jurisdictions, a small slice of Preston-Webb ritual that unfolds similar to this:

“How should Masons meet?”

“On the Level.”

“How should Masons act?”

“By the Plumb.”

“And part upon the Square.”

I’ve muddled the wording a bit, but if you’re familiar, you get the idea.  In all of my years of hearing these lines recited, I’ve always felt that they were imparting a very straight-forward lesson.  In my mind, these are instructions on how Freemasons are to conduct business with one another — whether it’s inside the lodge room or not.

If that’s what we’re learning from this, I think we’re missing the larger lessons that are hidden just behind the words.

“How should Masons meet?”

I feel that the words “…one another” are implied at the end of that question.  The words aren’t there, though.  If you were to take a more general interpretation of this question and its answer, the lesson is far more useful.

“How should Masons meet everyone?”

“On the Level.”

The same can be said for the next two lines:

“How should Masons act toward everyone?”

“By the Plumb.”

Meet everyone as an equal and uprightly.

“And part upon the Square.”

No additional words need to be read into this particular line, but I think that there is a better context than to simply make sure we’ve dealt with one another fairly.  Re-read the line as though it is referring to death.

When it’s our time to “shuffle off this mortal coil,” we should leave having dealt with everyone fairly.  We should “part upon the Square” — with no regrets.

Sure, this bit of ritual is excellent advice for how we should conduct our meetings with one another.  It’s even better advice, however, for how we should approach life.

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